Many Smugmug customers are pretty irate at the company’s recent decision to raise their professional photo hosting service from $150 US/year to $300/year (or $250 for existing customers). Me, I’m thankful. Why, you may ask?
The reason is that it made me stop and think and consider my whole online presence and realise I could do things better.
I was a Smugmug professional customer for a number of years and they do what they do well; their customer service is very good, your photos are presented well online, their service is easy to use and the quality of prints is exceptional but when I stopped and thought about it, they weren’t quite meeting my needs.
I still wanted a great web archive to display and market my photos from but I also wanted a fresher more professional looking website, better integration of my main website (a WordPress blog) and my photo galleries, better Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), the ability to sell rights-managed images and easier ways to deliver images to clients.
I did a fair bit of research and settled on the combination of Photoshelter to handle the hosting and sales of my photo archives and integrating it with a Graph Paper Press WordPress theme. This solution ticked all the boxes.
I also decided it was time for more professional branding and ran a design competition for a new logo through 99 Designs. I was staggered by the response, during the week or so of the contest 35 designers submitted a total of 178 designs – it was very difficult making the final choice as there were a number of extremely strong contenders that would have worked very well.
Once I’d decided on the solution I then got on to the mammoth task of properly cataloguing, tagging and key wording a photo archive of more than 15,000 images. Lightroom was my tool of choice to do this and that did make it easier but it was still a very big job. While most of my images were tagged to some degree, it wasn’t consistent.
I also renamed all images in my archive and they are now all in one single Lightroom Catalog.
The result is that my image archive is SEO friendly.
Armed with a new logo, I looked at several themes on offer from Graph Paper Press and settled on their F8 theme and started tinkering with it, it took a while and I got great support from the GPP and PhotoShelter technical support teams to assist with some customisation. You’re now looking at close to the finished result. I also spent a little time learning some basic techniques to make sure my website would be reasonably SEO friendly.
In just over a week since my site went live my site is on the front page of every major search engine when searching for my target keywords and I’ve had more web generated enquiries for shoots since the new website went up than I’ve had in the three months prior – I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
The only thing left is a lot of content to put up live in my PhotoShelter archive but it will all be up in coming weeks and as it goes live it gives me the opportunity to highlight some of my work from the past as well as keeping people abreast of my current work.
So, thank you Smugmug for motivating me to re-assess my needs and develop a solution that works better for me. The new solution isn’t cheaper but it’s definitely better for my needs.
Smugmug – www.smugmug.com
Graph Paper Press – www.graphpaperpress.com
PhotoShelter – www.photoshelter.com
99 Designs – www.99designs.com
Please check out my web galleries and if you really like buy yourself or someone special a print. Also, please spread the word by using the social media buttons.